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Series finale of ‘The Wire’ is Can’t Miss TV

This week “The Wire” heads off into the small screen sunset, although the reaction probably will be noticed only in small pockets of rabid fans and in a good hunk of Baltimore.
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

Television

When “The Sopranos” went off the air, the entire country was fixated on the final episode. This week “The Wire” heads off into the small screen sunset, although the reaction probably will be noticed only in small pockets of rabid fans and in a good hunk of Baltimore. David Simon’s brilliant saga of cops and drug dealers on the mean streets of Baltimore has seen favorite characters die suddenly while scumbags go free. But that’s the beauty of this series. It feels real. There wasn’t a false moment in the entire five-season run. This week in the 95-minute series finale fans of “The Wire” will have some nagging questions answered about who will live, who will die, who will be incarcerated and who will live happily ever after (no doubt a scant few). This is the best show on TV, so pay your final respects. You feel me? (HBO, Sunday, 9 p.m.)

Movies

Jason Statham, known far and wide for the “Transporter” series, has gone beyond the status of actor. Now he’s a genre. Whenever his name appears on top of a movie, you can be assured of head-spinning action and bullets galore. But his new film, “The Bank Job,” is a little more than the usual ammo-fest. Directed by Roger Donaldson (“Thirteen Days,” “The World’s Fastest Indian”), it tells the true story of the audacious 1971 heist perpetrated upon London’s Lloyds Bank and its aftermath. Stratham’s Terry gets lured into this scam by a hot babe, but finds out that the safe deposit boxes he rips off contain secrets as well as treasure, which add another level of complication to the scheme. It’s a crime action thriller, all right, but you can just call it a Stratham for short. (Lionsgate, opens Friday)

Music

Recently the Black Crowes got a little miffed because a critic for Maxim magazine gave their new CD, “Warpaint,” a tepid review. Maxim then had to issue an apology, admitting the critic didn’t listen to the whole album because the band hadn’t given anyone access to it yet. So I’m going to be really careful here and admit I haven’t heard the darn thing either. I tout it here for two reasons: They’re the Black Crowes, and their musical integrity speaks for itself; and this is their first new studio disc in seven years. Also, some of the early reviews of “Warpaint” — aside from Maxim, which I imagine is rethinking the way it handles future reviews — have been strong, including a glowing write-up in Billboard. So this is a pick in which you’re on your own, although I’ll be there to guide you. We can have faith in the Black Crowes together as we listen to the entire album before forming an opinion. (Silver Arrow)

DVD

One of the best pictures of 2007 was about a man who stubbornly goes on a quest, facing insurmountable odds, in what seems to him to be the right thing to do but would appear to most others to be a self-destructive waste of a life. No, it isn’t the Roger Clemens story. It’s “Into The Wild,” the Sean Penn-directed film based on the popular Jon Krakauer book. Emile Hirsch plays Chris McCandless, who after graduating from college gave away his money, hitchhiked across the country and met his end in Alaska. “Into The Wild” is on DVD this week in a two-disc collector’s edition, although the extras are rather limited for two discs. Still, Penn did an excellent job of penning the adaptation and directing, and the cast — led by Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt and Jena Malone — is sparkling. “Into The Wild” is one of the most enjoyable movies ever made about a guy who tragically dies young. (Paramount Home Entertainment)

Books

Barbara Kingsolver is a oft-honored novelist who decided to honor others. So she established the Bellwether Prize, the largest U.S. award for an unpublished manuscript that promotes social change. One of the recipients of the Bellwether is Hillary Jordan, who snagged it for “Mudbound.” Set in the South around the time of World War II, it tells the stories of six different characters as they deal with a region that doesn’t change its attitudes and its prejudices even though the world has been changed by war on a massive scale. Jordan has an uncanny knack for nailing the voices of characters she has no business knowing, but know them she does. “Mudbound” also reminds us of the sacrifices made by all soldiers, and how the home front isn’t always as appreciative as it should be. Making “Can’t Miss” isn’t nearly as impressive as winning the Bellwether Prize, but we do what we can. (Algonquin Books)